Tesla To Open Supercharger Network To Other Brands In The U.S.

July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Tesla is trying to use public funds to make electric vehicle charging stations and is preparing to open up part of its U.S. Supercharger network to electric vehicles made by other manufacturers.

Tesla has built a nationwide network of fast-charging posts for electric cars it makes, but other types of electric cars in the U.S. cannot use them. The U.S. government, automakers and many states are trying to speed up the construction of fast-charging posts along highways, assuring drivers that they can travel without worrying about battery levels. Over the past year, Tesla has said it plans to open its network of charging posts to other brands of electric vehicles, but details about the timing and whether to open existing charging stations or new ones have been scarce. Recent regulatory and other documents indicate that the company is applying for public funding that, if approved, would be needed to open the network to other electric car makers.

Grant documents show that in June, staff at the California Energy Agency proposed giving Tesla $6.4 million to build charging stations in rural areas. Other documents show that last November, Tesla was turned away from a Texas grant program that awarded $21 million on a first-come, first-served basis for highway fast chargers. The company's application, which requested about $1.8 million, was filed too late - Tesla submitted its application about three minutes after it opened, according to public records requests, while the company that was awarded the application applied the minute it began.

According to a White House fact sheet from late June, Tesla will "begin production of new Supercharger equipment by the end of the year that will enable non-Tesla electric vehicle drivers in North America to use Tesla Superchargers." So far, Tesla has not commented on the report.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted last year that the initiative would be implemented globally over time. Andrew Baglino, the company's senior vice president, said in April that the company is still working toward that goal in the United States. Last year, Tesla launched a pilot program to allow non-Tesla drivers in parts of Europe to use its charging network.

The U.S. government is ready to provide $7.5 billion to states for charging stations, funding included in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Congress last year. U.S. states are also ready with plans for how to build a nationwide charging network.

Tesla has been building its Supercharger network for several years and has a system that is easy to use and popular with drivers. To date, Tesla has 1,440 charging stations, providing drivers with access to about 14,000 charging posts, and drivers also have access to charging stations for a variety of other electric vehicles. The company did not detail the cost of building the charging network or charging revenue in its financial reports.

Standard charging connectors are used for electric cars in Europe, but three types of fast charging connectors are available in the United States. In the U.S., Tesla will have to provide adapters to allow other types of electric vehicles to connect to its charging posts. Tesla EV owners can already access other charging stations through adapters.

Advocates for greater adoption of electric vehicles say Tesla opening some new charging stations to other drivers won't make an immediate difference, but the demand for public charging is unstoppable as states seek to fill gaps on the gas station map.

While federal infrastructure funding won't begin to be available until later this year, Tesla's charging stations in Willows, Barstow, Coalinga and Baker are likely to be among the 17 winners of California grants to help build public charging stations. According to the agency, the California Energy Commission (California Energy Commission) may need to approve the funding at the commissioners' meeting in October.


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